Tournaments : : Story
Friday, July 29, 2016

PG World Series Day 3 Scout Notes

Jheremy Brown         Matt Czechanski        
Photo: Perfect Game

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For the Florida Burn early in the morning, third basemen Josh Rivera (2019, Fla.) stood out both offensively and defensively. In the first inning he made a diving stab to his left, gathered himself, and set his feet before riffling a throw across the diamond. He then followed that up making a play on a ball in front of him before showing the same strong arm with good carry and accuracy. At the plate, he connected with a pair of balls and found the barrel both times. His hands work very quickly through the zone with good bat speed and the ability to match his entry into the hitting zone. He lined a hard come-backer to the pitcher in his first at-bat and then ripped a single up the middle that left the bat at 92 mph. Rivera is very compact to the ball and showed impressive hand-eye skills at the plate. The uncommitted infielder projects well and possesses more physicality than his listed 6-foot, 145-pound frame would suggest.

Another impressive, uncommitted 2019 showed out offensively for the Georgia Jackets in shortstop/outfielder C.J. Abrams (2019, Ga.). Abrams played centerfield for the Jackets and showed mostly infielder actions out in centerfield with how he fielded and set up to throw. Those same actions showed well when he moved to shortstop in the Jackets second game of the day with the ability to range to both sides with a strong arm. Abrams stood out more at the plate than anywhere else, roping balls to all fields with authority. He has a good bit of twitch in his game, showing in his bat and hand speed through the zone. Abrams’ swing plane is a bit linear at times, but he has enough strength in his core and wrists to drive the ball to the gaps and wall. He creates some separation with a stride to the ball and creates some leverage in his lower half, despite hitting off his front side at times. In his first at-bat he flicked an opposite field double to the wall and followed that with a single up the middle with a 4.37 turn. His final at-bat of the first game was included in the video above where he delivered a triple to the right-centerfield wall with a 4.32 turn time around the bag. Abrams is a plus athlete on the field and projects for even more strength as he reaches physical maturity.

Continuing the trend, catcher Dominic Tamez (2019, Colo.) helped drive the offense for Baseball Northwest. The Arkansas commit has a good bit of physical strength already in his 5-foot-10, 190-pound frame with room to continue to add strength as he matures more. What you can see that really stands out with Tamez at the plate is the intent he shows both in his swings and in his takes. The stopping of his momentum as he shifts his weight shows his desire to hunt the ball and drive it. He has above average bat speed at the plate and swings with a consistent, line drive swing plane through the zone. He creates good leverage from his lower half with torque through his hips and rhythm in his weight shift. The impact he creates off of the barrel is another thing that impressed given his age. He delivered a pair of balls off the bat that each registered 95 mph plus off the bat. The first was a fly ball that helped knock in a run and the second was captured in the video above. The balance shown in the screen grab at the point of contact with his head placement show his ability at the plate. The bat-first prospect will continue to stand out with his talent at the plate.

Taking the mound for the Scorpions was uncommitted righthanded pitcher Casey Daiss (2019, Fla.). Daiss has an impressive physical frame on the mound, listed at 6-foot-4, 230-pounds with room to firm up his frame, but big time strength for his age. He started with a deeper hip coil on the mound with a long, quick arm action and wrist wrap at the end of the action. He threw from a three quarter arm slot, while landing online and cut off his extension at release, hurting his perceived velocity. There was some effort in his delivery with modest head violence, but the lack of command was noticeable. What Daiss did do well was show big arm strength for his age with heavy arm side life to his fastball. Daiss opened up the game working 86-88 mph and hitting 89 mph early on with that arm side life, but inconsistencies at release. His velocity dipped moving into his second inning, but he is very much a raw arm on the mound. He showed a hard slider at 79 mph with short depth on the mound and spiked it at times. Daiss has developing feel for spin, but was able to replicate his arm speed for the slider. Most of his misses with the fastball came on his arm side of the plate, missing well wide. When he worked on top of his fastball he got the best results from the lower velocity band and better downhill life as well.

The slightly built infielder, Jarrett Ford (2018, Ga.) showed some impressive quick twitch actions for Team Elite in their fourth pool play game. He showed a very quick swing at the plate with loose wrists and a compact path to the ball. He is very aggressive early on in the count and looks to take the ball to the opposite field or right back up the middle. He led off their game with a single back past the pitcher with intent and impact off the barrel. On the single he rounded the bag at 4.33 time and a very quick first step out of the box from the left side. His speed showed up in the infield as well, moving well to his left at second base with some gather and a good arm. The Tennessee commit’s actions were very clean and likely will remain on the right side given his size.

The star of the day’s events was No. 1 ranked player in the 2018 class, Kumar Rocker (2018, Ga.) who toed the rubber for Team Elite. Rocker is a physical specimen on the mound, listed at 6-foot-4, 235-pounds of loaded physical strength and maturity. He is still very young in the face and will continue to develop more with age. He throws ultra-loose and easy on the mound with a long arm action from a variable arm slot. The arm action is so clean and balanced it is hard to believe he’s a 2018 on the mound with such fluidity. He starts with a hand raise above his head and shows off a very long levered delivery, staying tall on his backside. He lands online and works over his front side some. The recent Vanderbilt commit showed the same easy arm strength he always has working his fastball between 90-93 mph and routinely popping out 94 mph in the first two innings. For his fastball he worked primarily from an extended three-quarters arm slot. He generated easy angle and plane to his fastball and got most of his swings and misses up in the zone with good riding life to the pitch. If he worked it lower in the zone he got weak groundballs that scattered around the infield. More impressively, Rocker showed the ability to get to both sides of the plate with his fastball. His command of the pitch and knowing the hard tail he creates with it allowed his secondary offerings to play up even higher. Working off of his fastball, he alternated between a wipeout slider in the upper-70s and also showed a changeup up to 83 mph. Rocker’s changeup was what he used most early on, dropping his arm slot some and slowing it, but throwing the pitch with similar conviction generating good fade to his arm side. He used the pitch to strike out the last batter in the video above and relied on it with two strikes. As the game progressed, he began breaking out his hard, 10-to-4 shaped slider with well above average spin. The pitch was tight with hard, late bite up to 78 mph with tilt. One fault on the slider was that when he tried to throw the pitch away from righthanded hitters he pushed it more over his front side. The pitch lost some of the spin, but given how good it is was still effective. The feel for both secondary pitches was well beyond impressive, but that has turned into the new normal for the big righthander. Rocker fired a very effective and efficient four innings on the mound allowing three hits and striking out five batters.

On the opposite quad, righthanded pitcher Tristan McDonough (2018, Md.) took the mound for the Banditos after impressing during the 16u WWBA National Championship. McDonough has a medium build on the mound, listed at 6-foot-1, 185 pounds with strength in his frame. He starts with an unorthodox delivery and creates good deception with a high hand raise over his head and some spine tilt before coming to the plate. He threw from the same short, compact arm action on the mound with good arm strength as well. His fastball worked up to 90 mph early on, but was more true than in his previous outing up in the zone. He comfortably worked 85-88 mph with better natural cut to his glove side. He only worked a couple innings on the mound, but was effective when working inside to lefthanded hitters and letting the cut action on the ball run away from righties. The breaking ball feel is still a work in progress on the mound with softer shape as he underthrows it in the low-70s and dips into the upper-60s. It is merely a show-me offering at present with the ability to improve it.

In the Scorpions second game of the night, uncommitted catcher/outfielder Bryce Boone (2019, Fla.) showed off some loud tools. In the second inning he started off with a loud double over the left fielder’s head with good barrel and backspin. He has strength in his 6-foot-2, 185-pound frame with immense projection remaining. His barrel works quickly into the zone with a linear plane and stays there for what looks like forever with good extension. Boone has strength in his forearms and wrists and he showed the willingness to take the ball to the opposite field when pitched away. From the right field, he gathered quickly with a full arm action and threw a dart home with impressive carry and accuracy to nail the runner who was tagging. The ball beat the runner by almost two full steps as Boone was moving towards the foul line when he caught the fly ball.

Making his third appearance on field 12 at LakePoint in the last week and a half, Miami commit, righthanded pitcher Austin Thomas (2019, Fla.) took the mound again for the Scorpions. Thomas stands tall on the mound, listed at 6-foot-4, 190-pounds with a long, lean frame and limbs that stretch long down his side. He projects incredibly well physically and should continue to improve with added strength. Thomas starts with a medium hip coil towards the plate before going into his longer arm action. There was some hook at the end of his circle, but he comes through it well, throwing from an extended three quarter arm slot. His fastball worked 84-88 mph and was up to 89 mph in the first inning. When he worked on top of his heater it showed good, power sink to the lower third of the zone. Thomas does very well to get downhill and create impressive angle to his fastball with over seven feet of extension down the mound. His overall command was off as compared to previous viewings, but still flashed the ability to get to both sides with above average movement. There was some effort in his delivery with head violence at release, but it was not a huge impediment. He still showed the slowed down curveball as well with 11-to-5 shape and well above average spin. Once Thomas learns to replicate his arm speed for the pitch it should prove to be a weapon with his hand speed and feel for spin.

– Matt Czechanski

In terms of overall feel and pitchability there are very few that can top what Louisville commit and 2018 lefthander Carter Lohman (Fishers, Ind.) can bring to the mound. And though he wasn’t as crisp in his second inning of work, his opening frame was a thing of beauty and was simply a true masterpiece. Physically and ideally built with broad shoulders and a higher waist to his 6-foot-2, 185-pound frame, Lohman shows both the type of arsenal and command that could get hitters out at the college level right now.

With plenty of strength proportioned throughout his lower half, Lohman is able to incorporate that strength well into his drive as he shows sound balance to his delivery and drives extremely well to the plate. His arm action coming through the back and very quick, yet hidden, and when coupled with the angle he’s able to create on the pitch hitters just simply couldn’t seem to pick the ball up out of his hand. Take in those factors and then consider the fact that Lohman can spot his heater to either side of the plate and you know you have something special.

Opening the game up with a 75 mph breaking ball, Lohman proceeded to work in the 86-89 mph range in the opening frame, moving the ball in and out at will regardless whether it’s a lefthanded or righthanded hitter. The fastball showed consistent running life to the arm side and featured very sharp angle when he located to glove side. Lohman picked up more than a handful of swings-and-misses in the first inning en route to striking out the side and part of the reason was his overall comfort level with his arsenal. The breaking ball, a curveball in the mid-70s, offered tight rotation with late snap and 1-to-7 shape while his changeup is his true weapon. With an arm action that replicates that of his fastball, Lohman is able to maintain the arm speed very well and produce late diving life in the 78-80 mph range. At the end of the day Lohman is yet another highly talented, still very projectable arm who shows some of the best feel and one of the better overall three-pitch arsenals throughout the country.

Opposing Lohman from the opposite dugout was another highly ranked, very talented 2018 arm in righthander Cole Henry (Florence, Ala.). Currently ranked No. 12 in the country, the future LSU Tiger more than looks the part on the mound at a broad shouldered, long limbed 6-foot-4, 185-pounds and he shows the potential to be another high end talent. Though Henry had an extended first inning as he had a couple of defensive miscues behind him and struggled to find a consistent release point, the stuff that came out of his right hand is tough to match at times.

Like Lohman above, Henry showed off a full three-pitch arsenal, all of which can miss bats though he didn’t mix and match as frequently as his counterpart did. Using his long levers to his advantage, Henry shows a long whip-like arm action with solid extension out front which helps to produce hard and consistent running life to his heater down in the zone with an extra gear before reaching the plate. He worked comfortably in the 89-92 mph range and though he’s shown better this summer Henry still showed the ability to miss bats with his fastball when he was down in the zone. Nothing out of the hand is straight and that includes his changeup, an advanced offering that features late diving life in the 83-84 mph range. Showing the same type of arm speed and extended three-quarters release point on the pitch hitters weren’t able to detect changeup until it was too late, caught out front and swinging emptily. His breaking ball gives him a third swing-and-miss pitch as it shows quality depth and 11-5 shape in the mid-70s, along with the comfort to double up on the pitch when it’s called. Though the command wasn’t as consistent as it’s been, Henry has a true three-pitch arsenal, all of which can induce empty swings and he’s just entering his junior year of high school.

A player who’s entering his sophomore year of high school is lefthander Carson Palmquist (Fort Myers, Fla.) and though he’s currently uncommitted he was able to draw in a nice group of college coaches last night. After all, he’s a 6-foot-3, high waisted and loose limbed uncommitted lefthander who sat in the 83-85 mph range early in the content. Creating plenty of whip to his arm action and working to an extended to lower three-quarters slot, Palmquist was able to generate consistent sinking life to his fastball while showing the feel to move to the ball to either side of plate with intent. The ball comes out of his hand cleanly and he did a nice job of repeating his delivery pitch to pitch, remaining tall on his backside and balanced through the release point.

If the low- to mid-80s fastball, loose arm action, and highly projectable frame aren’t enough to pique interest, then consider the fact that Palmquist threw three distinct and showed comfort in doing so. The best of the trio was his slider, a 73-74 mph pitch that showed short tiling life and the ability to get to the back foot of righthanded hitters with some sweeping life. His curveball, thrown more in the 70-72 mph range, showed short depth and 1-7 shape and he did a nice job of replicating his arm speed on his changeup, a mid-70s offering that looked similar to the fastball in terms of life, just 10 mph slower.

A recent commit to the University of Nebraska, 2018 righthander/shortstop Spencer Schwellenbach (Saginaw, Mich.) appears to be one of the better two-way prospects in the class at this point and could very much pull it off at the collegiate level. Strongly built with broad shoulders and physical strength proportioned throughout, Schwellenbach first made noise with the bat in his team’s first game as he picked up a couple of well struck singles, showing plenty of bat speed and solid extension as he lined a pitch both into right field early in the game before spinning on one to his pull side later.

Even more impressive though are his exploits on the mound as he offers a true three-pitch mix, lightning fast arm action, and feel for the strike zone. With plenty of balance and athleticism to his delivery, Schwellenbach offers a short yet fast arm action with which he does a nice job of working on top of the ball and pounding the 88-90 mph, touching 91, down in the zone with plenty of plane. He’s able to create angle to either side of the plate with his fastball which offers short running life and maintains the velocity well into his start. He mixes with plenty of comfort and can throw any of his three pitches for strikes at any given moment. His curveball is tight and offers sharp, biting life at 73-74 mph and he showed comfort in turning over a quality changeup in the upper-70s.

A player I hadn’t yet seen but will make it a point to see again is Evoshield Canes’ shortstop and uncommitted 2018 Sean Guilbe (Reading, Pa.). He’ll catch your attention immediately with his angular shoulders and physical, yet projectable, 6-foot-1 190-pound frame and his level of play certainly matches what the body would indicate. Digging in against Henry in his first at-bat, Guilbe showed no trouble spinning on a 90 mph fastball, staying short and fast with his hands and turning on a double to the left center field gap. He’s just as impressive up the middle as he made a couple of noteworthy plays, the first of which came on a double play turn in which he showed off a fast transfer and plenty of arm strength to whip the ball on to first base. A couple of plays later, though he didn’t get the runner, Guilbe showed off quality footwork charging in on a ball as he rounded it well and remained balanced while throwing across his body.

Seemingly with each viewing uncommitted 2019 righthander Joseph Charles (Celebration, Fla.) seems to up the ante in terms of fastball velocity as yesterday was the best I’d seen him, sitting in the 89-92 mph range early in the first inning. Listed at a still very projectable 6-foot-2, 175-pounds, Charles has the type of arm action you can project on as well as it’s plenty loose coming through the backside while generating solid extension out front. Though his release point varied from pitch to pitch as times which led to some scattered command, when everything was on time he was able to generate solid sinking life down in the zone and work to either side of the plate. Charles shows a rather simple delivery and the arm action is compact enough through the back where consistency will come with the release point and it’ll allow for consistent strikes. With the velocity coming rather easily for Charles there’s no reason to assume more won’t be coming sooner rather than later. His weapon pitch yesterday, though he didn’t throw it with regularity, was a tight 11-5 shape breaking ball and it’s a pitch that should continue to develop into a true swing-and-miss pitch. Thrown in the 74-76 mph range, Charles’ curveball showed late biting depth and was consistently down in the zone with the pitch while showing the ability to back door it to lefthanded hitters.

Two days ago we talked about 2018 outfielder/lefthanded pitcher Grant Richardson (Fort Wayne, Ind.) due to his lefthanded stroke, but today we’re mentioning him courtesy of his strong left arm. Physically built at 6-foot-2, 179-pounds, Richardson did a nice job of pumping 86-89 mph fastball to the bottom of the zone from an over-the-top slot, bumping a 90 with short running life to his arm side. While he’ll need to continue to refine his overall delivery on the mound and remain closed a bit longer with his front side, there’s no doubting his overall abilities and athleticism on the mound as he showed a feel for three distinct pitches, all of which he could throw for strikes. He pitched off his fastball and did a nice job of creating plane on the pitch, though he also mixed in both a slider and changeup for strikes. His slider is the more advanced of the two at present and could very well develop into a swing-and-miss type offering in the 76-79 mph range as it features quality tilt and hard, late bite out of the hand.

If you blinked you might’ve missed the performance from 2018 righthander Ethan Hankins (Cumming, Ga.) as he needed less than a dozen pitches to extinguish a threat in the seventh inning. Just as he’s done through the summer the ultra-projectable 6-foot-6 Vanderbilt commit came out pumping a fastball that sat 91-92 mph with every pitch showing big time jump out of the hand and late life through the zone. His arm resembles that of a whip coming through the backside and he did a nice job of filling up the zone with his heater, inducing plenty of uncomfortable swings in the process. Though he didn’t throw any breaking balls in game he did shows some in the bullpen and it’s a pitch that has continued to evolve with sharp break and 11-to-5 shape.

In less than 24 hours uncommitted 2020 outfielder Trejyn Fletcher (Portland, Maine) has made a couple of mechanical adjustments to his swing with which he’s seen immediate repercussions and will continue to impact his offensive performance as he continues to develop. More than physically impressive for a player his age with defined muscle throughout, Fletcher now begins with his hands in a better position to launch as opposed to starting them out over the plate and pulling them back deep at the start of his swing. He’s also showing a much more measured leg kick trigger, another aspect that made his old swing all the more timing oriented. Now however with the two adjustments he can be much more direct to the ball and as the velocity he faces continues to uptick he won’t be overmatched. And yesterday he put those mechanics immediately into effect as he lined a single back up the middle before showing off some of his big raw strength on a triple that hopped against the center field wall despite not fully getting all of it with the barrel. Stay tuned, this is an exciting young prospect who has the tools to continuously improve.

It was a good couple of hours to be 2019 outfielder Judson Fabian (Ocala, Fla.). In his team’s first game of a double dip, Fabian, who’s now listed at 6-foot, 170-pound and appears taller than the listed height, didn’t miss his pitch and nearly broke the windshield of a car just beyond the left field fence with a long home run. Aside from these last couple of weeks my prior viewing of Fabian had come last winter and the strides he’s made since then are noteworthy, though he’s also continued to mature physically. And with that physicality has come an increase in both hand and bat speed and has helped though gap shot doubles turn into over the fence type strength. And of the schools looking on one in particular must have taken notice as it wasn’t too long after the game that Fabian announced his verbal commitment to Coach Kevin O’Sullivan and the Florida Gators.

In one of the final slots of the night, righthander Nick Bitsko (Doylestown, Pa.) was called in out of the Tri State Arsenal bullpen and by the looks of the frame and a few warmup pitches it appeared safe to assume he was like the rest of the players in the 15u portion of the event and heading into his sophomore season of high school. After all, he’s listed at 6-foot-2, 170-pounds, showed a fast and whip-like arm action, and sat in the 83-85 mph range, bumping an 86 in his first inning of work. As it turns out Bitsko isn’t beginning his sophomore year, nor is he entering high school as he’ll have another year to wait as he set to begin his eighth grade year this fall. The arm speed would stand out in the 16U portion of the event, let alone the 15u or even 13u where he’d be eligible to pitch and with that type of arm speed comes a rather remarkable fastball for a player his age. With a high leg lift up past his belt at the start of the delivery Bitsko did a nice job of consistently working on top of the ball, showing short running life down in the zone while staying rather abbreviated through the back with his arm stroke. He filled up the strike zone in the opening frame and even showed a feel to spin a breaking ball at 72 mph with 11-5 shape and short depth through the zone. It’s obviously very early in the process for this young righthander but he has all the makings to be a very nice player when it’s all said and done.

Before most people were able to order their first cup of coffee in the morning, 2019 outfielder Tim McHugh (Commack, N.Y.) was providing a jolt of his own for the MVP Beasts in a prevailing win over the Banditos Baseball club. Physically impressive both on paper at 6-foot-3, 200-pounds and to the bare eye with square shoulders and long limbs it’s rather remarkable to consider that McHugh could very well just be entering his freshman year since he’s that young for the 2019 class, graduating a few months’ shy of his 18th birthday in a couple of years. Being up a grade hasn’t seemed to hinder any progress on the diamond nor has it inhibited him from unlocking power from the right side of the plate. For a player of his age and size McHugh showed a rather short and leverage swing which helped produce a two-run home run over the left field fence, showing plenty of loft and carry off the bat.

– Jheremy Brown

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